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HAIL PARENTS FOR SUPPORTING SON

Dear Ann Landers: I respectfully disagree with your answer to "Ambivalent Parents in Los Angeles." They expressed the wish to confront their 40-year-old son with the knowledge that he is gay. They wanted to tell him they have been aware of his sexual preference for a long time and are perfectly OK with it. Your advice was, "If there ever was a time when you should MYOB, this is it."

I almost always agree with your advice, but this time, Ann, you are wrong, wrong, wrong. I can tell you that most parents of gays and lesbians have a very good idea about their children's sexual orientation, whether they have discussed it with them or not. Gay children who choose to be quiet about this part of their lives remain silent because they are afraid of rejection. That is the real problem. Please pass this on.

-- A Dissenting Opinion in Texas
Dear Dissenting Opinion: The wet noodle comes out of semi-retirement. I have been royally clobbered for that lousy advice by readers in every state in the Union and all the provinces in Canada. Tonight I am skipping supper and will be eating a large bucket of crow. My gay readers have informed me that it is enormously liberating to be told by their parents, "We know -- and we're OK with it." I now see the point. Here's more on the subject:

From Honolulu: I see my closeted friends suffer so much pain because they think their parents "wouldn't understand." What a breath of fresh air to know there are parents out there who do understand.

From Lafayette, Ind.: I am a 29-year-old professional woman whose family adheres to the "don't ask, don't tell" policy concerning my sexual identity. They've made it clear that they don't wish to discuss it. When I tried to share the details of a lovely trip I had with my partner, they clammed up. That closet door works both ways. For the sake of everyone, it should be opened.

Name and city withheld on request: Can you imagine what it is like to have to "move out" when your partner's parents come to visit and take all your belongings so they don't "suspect anything"? Parents who "suspect" should come right out and ask. They should say, "We think you have a same-sex partner, and it is all right with us. We just want you to be honest about it."

From Houston: My girlfriend and I have been together for nine years. We both have been welcomed by each other's families. We feel fortunate to have such loving and understanding parents. We have friends who have been shunned for "disgracing" their families, and the hurt they suffer is indescribable. One reason my parents have been so accepting is because they have been reading your column from the get-go.

From Phoenix: Ann, these are loving parents who want to remove a major roadblock in their relationship with their son. She asked the simple question, "Is there a discreet way to let him know we are aware that he is gay, and that it's OK?" The answer is, "Of course there is." They should tell their son they are aware of his lifestyle, they accept it, and they will always love him -- no matter what. You cannot imagine what a relief this would be for that sad son.

Dear Readers: Since this is my column, I get the last word: Same-sex relationships are not a "lifestyle," it's the way some people are born. They are sexually attracted to members of their own gender. Such individuals should not need to hide or pretend. They should be accepted as they are, with no apologies.

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